Belgium managed to fight off a late Brazilian resistance to beat the Seleção 2-1 in the Kazan Arena.
Roberto Martinez decided to reward his super substitutes from the previous match against Japan by starting Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini instead of Mertens and Carrasco, in a move that was highly praised after their excellent performances last Monday.
Brazil started the game brightly dominating possession and Belgium got lucky when Brazil nearly took the lead in the 8th minute when Thiago Silva latched onto a corner but could not get the correct contact and the ball instead hit the post from 4 yards out.
The Red Devils took the lead in the 13th minute after Fernandinho scored an own goal from a corner. The goal came against the run of play which helped the Belgian side’s morale a lot.
In the 31st minute, Romelu Lukaku drove forward from his own half brilliantly beating a number of Brazilian midfielders. Once he reached midway through the Brazilian half he played the ball off to Kevin De Bruyne who let fire from outside the box giving Belgium a 2-0 lead. KDB hit the ball so sweetly that it didn’t rotate in the air as it was fired into the bottom left corner.
Lukaku had an excellent game, even if the statistics might suggest otherwise, and was causing the Brazilian defenders a world of trouble. He was able to easily run past them showing excellent pace to beat them and delivered fierce crosses in his slightly more wider than usual starting position.
Brazil responded strongly bringing on Roberto Firmino for Willian and Douglas Costa for Gabriel Jesus. Costa bought on a new spark and on a number of occasions managed to wriggle through the Belgian defence and cause a threat. Eventually, in the 76th minute, Renato Augusto pulled one back after heading in a delightful chipped cross from Philippe Coutinho.
There was a lot of pressure at the end which did worry the Belgian fans however Roberto Martinez again excelled tactically bringing on Thomas Vermaelen and Youri Tielemans.
One player worth mentioning for his excellent performance was Thibaut Courtois who made a number of excellent saves, with the most notable being in the last kick of the game after Neymar attempted an excellent 25-yard curling shot which was parried over by the Belgian number one.
Belgium now face one of the favourites France which is worrying for the Belgians. Belgium, however, can rely on the excellent form of the side which is now unbeaten in 24 games and should Belgium beat France they will break the record for the longest unbeaten streak in international football.